The head of the BBC Asian Network has announced she is to leave in the summer after more than 20 years working for the corporation.
Vijay Sharma started her BBC career with Radio Leicester and developed Asian programming for the Midlands which eventually turned into the national digital radio service.
Plans to close the Asian Network were scrapped last year, though proposals under DQF will see cuts of around 30% to the network’s £12m budget.
Sharma announced her departure earlier today, saying she would leave following the BBC Trust’s service review of the network. It’s understood she is to pursue other interests in the health, cultural and charity sectors.
“I couldn’t have left when the station faced an uncertain future, but now seems like the right time,” she told BBC staff publication Ariel. “The Asian Network is performing well, its future as a national network is secure and there are some excellent creative plans.”
In an email to staff she said: “I have had the privilege of working with so many talented individuals – a group of hardworking, creative and inspirational people who are a credit to the BBC. The Asian Network has played a pivotal role in providing a platform to the British Asian artists, creative and journalistic talent. I am hugely proud of this.”
Under Sharma’s leadership, five hours of Asian programming at BBC Radio Leicester grew to 80 hours and a Midlands regional Asian Network. The programmes were then rolled out on medium wave frequencies to the East Midlands, the North West, South and West Yorkshire, Peterborough and the Three Counties, before Sharma led the move to a national radio station on DAB in 2002.
Asian Network Controller Bob Shennan – who also runs Radio 2 and 6 Music said Sharm’s legacy was ‘impressive’ and he paid tribute to her “inspirational leadership during the last turbulent 18 months”.